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Parquet Courts

February 21, 2017

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Late last week I got an email about a new Parquet Courts track with Bun B, and I feared that maybe the band had jumped the shark.  Nope.  It’s definitely a weird tune, but I really dig it.  Can’t say I want more of the same, though.  I hope it remains a random little one-off thing forever.  The Captive Of The Sun 12″ is available now.  Enjoy.

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Quickdraw: White Lung, Nothing, Summer Cannibals, Parquet Courts, Wire

February 29, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:White Lung – Hungry:  This new White Lung single weirded me out at first.  They’re usually so fierce, and this doesn’t even kind of make me feel like they want to burn down my house.  A cleaned up sound does fit them well though.  Paradise is due out May 6 via Domino.

:Nothing – Vertigo Flowers:  There’s a big wall of guitars on display here, and I’m all about it.  Nothing’s sophomore LP will definitely be a year-end favorite of mind if it has more of the same.  Tired Of Tomorrow is due out May 13 via Relapse.

:Summer Cannibals – Go Home:  Summer Cannibals’ front woman Jessica Boudreaux is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  She’s just got a great voice (it’s kind of like a more punk rock version of Alicia Bognanno from Bully).  Full Of It is due out May 27 via Kill Rock Stars.

:Parquet Courts – Berlin Got Blurry:  “Nothing lasts but nearly everything lingers in life.”  What a line.  On another note, this is easily one of Parquet Courts most accessible tracks.  Human Performance is due out April 8 via Rough Trade.  The band will play Levitation in April/May.

:Wire – Nocturnal Koreans:  You have to give it up to Wire for the way they’re still trucking along and churning out quality tunes.  They started in 1976!  Nocturnal Koreans is due out April 29 via Pinkflag.

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Quickdraw: Sheer Mag, Parquet Courts, Mass Gothic, The Raveonettes, Mogwai

February 8, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Sheer Mag – Can’t Stop Fighting:  Another year, another immensely rad track from Sheer Mag.  Eventually they’re going to write a bad song, and even then I might still dig it.  No word yet on whether this is a one-off track or if it belongs to an EP/LP.

:Parquet Courts – Dust:  Here’s a simplistic, somewhat humorous new one from Parquet Courts.  I appreciate the way those guys seemingly never take any time off.  Human Performance is due out April 8 via Rough Trade.  The band will be at Levitation in April/May.

:Mass Gothic – March Of The Cigs:  Even though they just put out an album via the mighty Sub Pop, I wasn’t aware of Mass Gothic until this track came along.  It’s big and atmospheric, and I’ll definitely use it as a reason to check out the band’s debut.  The Mass Gothic/Mazed split is available now via Bandcamp.

:The Raveonettes – This World Is Empty (Without You):  This catchy, 80s-enthused number is the first of 12 singles that The Raveonettes will be releasing this year (that’s one per month, in case that didn’t auto-click in your head).  I’m into it.

:Mogwai – Ether:  Mogwai just made the jump to Temporary Residence LTD, and that’s where they’ll put out reworked versions of the music they crafted for the documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise.  This first taste is a slow-burner that’s deserving of good headphones.  Atomic: A Soundtrack By Mogwai is due out June 17.

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Quickdraw: Ratatat, Weaves, Parquet Courts, Cherry Glazerr, Beck

June 18, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Ratatat – Abrasive:  Here’s the new single off of Ratatat’s upcoming album.  I’m assuming that titling it Abrasive was some kind of inside joke because it’s immaculately crafted and a total joy to listen to.  Magnifique is due out July 17 via XL Recordings.

:Weaves – Tick:  Shame on me for missing out on this squirrely little jam by Weaves when it was released a couple of weeks back.  It’s really damn good.  I believe the band’s debut album will be out later this year.  It’ll probably be great.

:Parquet Courts – Pretty Girls (Joey Pizza Slice Cover):  “Sunshine is a mother fucker/Pretty girls is a mother fucker/Happiness is a mother fucker”  Now that’s a positive message!  Parquet Court’s split 7″ with Joey Pizza Slice (they cover each other on it) is due out August 11 via Wharf Cat.

:Cherry Glazerr – Sip ‘O Poison:  The Adult Swim Singles series is back!  I’ve always liked how it allows bands to operate outside of their usual comfort zone, and Cherry Glazerr definitely are doing that here.  I didn’t think they had such an aggressive sound in them.

:Beck – Dreams:  I know it’s only June, but I’m pretty certain we can go ahead and label this new one from Beck as the definitive song of this summer.  What an immensely infectious effort it is.  The Dreams single is out now.

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Stream This

January 16, 2015

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

Viet Cong – Self Titled
Menace Beach – Ratworld
The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
Amen Dunes – Cowboy Worship EP
Belle And Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
The Suffers – Make Some Room EP
Ty Segall – Mr. Face EP
Genuine Leather – Barb Wire EP
Ryan Adams – No Shadow EP
Alex Calder – Strange Dreams
Cloakroom – Further Out
Fulton Read – You & I
Jack Name – Weird Moons
Meat Wave – Brother EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Sleater-Kinney

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2014 SOTO Staff Picks

December 11, 2014

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I’ve rambled on long enough about the music I liked in 2014.  Here are the staff’s picks.  Enjoy.

Turns out that aside from the crippling bodily ailments and the inability to control my bladder, getting older has made me absolutely awful at listening to music. Don’t hate haters, I’ve just gotten over the hump of 30 and all of sudden I just can’t focus enough to listen to a whole album. Blame it on the SNES I brought home for my girlfriend’s birthday, blame it on the imposition of real life, blame it on the encroaching approach of a potent mix of early onset dementia and Adult ADHD – I’ve just been really bad at music listening this year. Thus, my teensy tiny list of music is culled from a pond not nearly as large as I’d hoped it to be. That said, the music I liked, I loved and that’s the music that ended up below.

Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Caribou – Our Love
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Perfume Genius – Too Bright

Since 2010, rock music hasn’t changed all that much. There’s presently a general look back to past niche musics from the 1960′s onward. But through the nostalgia haze, there are a great deal of both old and new artists finding new latitudes. Here’s my major jams this year.

1. Thurston Moore – The Best Day (Matador)
2. David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights – End Times Undone (Merge)
3. Steve Gunn – Way out Weather (PoB)
4. Datashock – Keine Oase in Sicht (Dekorder)
5. William Tyler – Lost Colony (Merge)

I’ve been staring at my 2014 list like a student procrastinating on their end of the semester term paper.  I go back and forth on who to include, who to leave out, and recalling releases (d’oh!) I never got around to checking out. There are also the nagging doubts such as wondering if I gave an album enough listens to put it on my list. Like last year my list focuses on my local Austin favorites. Narrowing it down to the Top 5 wasn’t easy but I stand by my choices of my faves that earned multiple listens. So many good bands to choose from but oh what a problem to have, right?

In no particular order, I present to you :

The Sour Notes – Do What May
Abram Shook – Sun Marquee
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
She Sir – Go Guitars
Shivery Shakes – Three Waves and A Shake

Honorable Mentions: The Ugly Beats – Brand New Day, Roger Sellers – Primitives, Genuine Leather – Losers

Compared to last year, 2014 left much to be desired when it comes to the sheer number of amazing releases. 2013 offered probably 15 to 20 “crap your pants while listening best record of the century” type stuff but then after that it sort of fell short in the real meat of the pack by not having a lot to deepen the core of metal. The reverse of which is true this year, I have attached to a few records as rising to the tippy top of the heap, but the real glory came in the form of the fat of the genre, so many decent albums from so many artists, many debuts, but several just continuations on great careers, but few to get all wigged out about.

My Top 5 you can see here are pretty clear choices though when you look at what they accomplished on these albums, Devn Townsend Project made two albums into one, and continued the story or Ziltoid the Omniscient, Anaal Nathrakh did what they do, but better, Job for a Cowboy somehow made bass a relevant instrument in death metal, At the Gates reunited after 900 years and proved they still have it, and Black Crown Initiate stole the show with their debut mixing death metal and melodic anthems into something technically proficient and sufficiently mind blowing. I was not let down this year, but I know I will be surprised in a few years with what I actually retained from 2014, not sure if you would agree, but that’s how I see things …

5. Devin Townsend Project – Ziltoid 2 (Century Media)
4. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum (Metal Blade)
3. Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater (Metal Blade)
2. At The Gates – At War With Reality (Century Media)
1. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage Of Stars (eOne Entertainment)

I guess I’ll start by saying that 2014 hasn’t been an amazing year for hip hop, but it hasn’t been a completely terrible one either.  Here are my choices for the best releases this year, in no particular order:

Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy
Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majaesty

T’was a solid year for melancholy songs. Albums that truly destroyed the center of the cardiovascular system were aplenty. We’re living in a golden age of audio misery! There were SO MANY great releases that dehydrated our tear ducts but since you, the readers, are demanding a definitive ranking of the saddest albums of the year, so be it. I’ve done the requisite soul searching and came up with this predominantly lady-heavy list of my fav weepers of the year. They are full of gut wrenchers, soul crushers … and they are all fantastic. Way to bring the pain this year, ladies!

1: Beck – Morning Phase
2. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
3. Divorcee – Self Titled
4. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
5. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Best Reissue: American Football – Self Titled

Narrowing down my top albums is a tortuous process. I’m an old-school guy. I still listen to entire albums from start to finish and only occasionally opt for a playlist of singles. Immersing yourself in an album is the most satisfying way way to connect with the music. So I get really dialed into my favorite albums each year, which makes narrowing down the lot a difficult task.

Before we get to my top five, let’s take a minute to recognized the amazing amount of quality music released this year by 12XU. It was far and away the top Austin label in 2014. They featured not only one of my top artists (The Dead Space) and but also three others in my top 10 (Flesh Lights, Jonly Bonly, The Gotobeds).

1) Ghetto Ghouls – Self Titled
2) The Dead Space – Faker
3) Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right
4) Ex Hex – Rips
5) OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm

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Top 25 Albums Of 2014: Part 2

December 10, 2014

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Here are the final 10 selections for my Top 25 Albums of 2014 list!  Be sure to check out PART ONE if you haven’t already.  Enjoy.

10) The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream is as dad-rock as it gets, but it’s also the most compelling album of 2014.  Grab some whiskey and give it all your attention.

:The War On Drugs – Red Eyes:

09) Tycho – Awake

Tycho’s Awake is a must-have for fans of instrumental music.  I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent with its post-rock-leaning sound swirling around in my headphones.

:Tycho – Awake:

08) Spoon – They Want My Soul

They Want My Soul is the latest high quality release from Spoon.  I advise that you take a moment to fully appreciate the fact that they’ve been consistently good for roughly TWENTY years.  Wow.

:Spoon – Inside Out:

07) Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else

I’ve listened to a lot of people ramble on about how “their last album was better” but Here And Nowhere Else is the first time I’ve truly loved something from Cloud Nothings.  There’s not one bad song on the thoroughly 90s-enthused effort.

:Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me:

06) Solids – Blame Confusion

From start to finish, Solids’ Blame Confusion is just one lo-fi indie rock gem after another.  It seems unlikely that I’ll ever tire of the album.

:Solids – Traces:

05) Lace Curtains – A Signed Piece Of Paper

With A Signed Piece Of Paper, Michael Coomer (aka Lace Curtains) has further cemented himself as one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  We just get each other.  Or something.  Anyways, have you heard his debut, The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness?  It was my #1 album back in 2012.

:Lace Curtains – The Fly:

04) St. Vincent – Self Titled

I’m just about out of ways to praise Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent).  This is the fourth time she’s landed in the Top 5 of my year-end album list.  Is she even capable of putting out something that’s not utterly fantastic?

:St. Vincent – Digital Witness:

03) Tony Molina – Dissed And Dismissed

12 songs, 11 minutes.  Tony Molina’s Dissed And Dismissed may not seem like it has a lot to offer, but it’s actually home to some of the best pop hooks I’ve come across in a long time.  Talk about infectious.

:Tony Molina – Nowhere To Go:

02) Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

There was a sizable stretch this year where I found myself listening to Parquet Courts’ Sunbathing Animal at least twice a day.  I really think the album features some of the best songs that the band has ever written.

:Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly:

01) Run The Jewels – RTJ2

OH MY.  Here in the #1 slot of my Top 25 Albums of 2014 is none other than Run The Jewels’ RTJ2!  The explosive duo of Killer Mike and EL-P really hit a home run with their sophomore effort, and we should all celebrate accordingly.

:Run The Jewels – Oh My Darling Don’t Cry:

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 5

December 5, 2014

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The end.  If you missed any part of this countdown, I’ve neatly arranged all of the tracks on one page right HERE.  Enjoy.

10)  :Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) (Featuring Zack De La Rocha):  Killer Mike and El-P each turn in rad work here, but it’s actually Zack Del La Rocha that makes this Run The Jewels track something worth championing forever.  From RTJ 2.

09)  :FKA Twigs – Two Weeks:  Despite listening to this an enormous amount of times, it’s still a song that forcefully grabs and holds my attention.   FKA Twigs is one of music’s best new voices.  From LP1.

08)  :St. Vincent – Digital Witness:  Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) is steadily pulling in a more mainstream audience, and I’m all about it.  The world is a better place with avant-pop gems like this one challenging the ears of the masses.  From her self titled album.

07)  :Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:  After Interpol released a couple of mediocre LPs and lost bassist Carlos D, I just knew I was done with them.  Or not.  This track is an inspired effort that has me once again confidently perched on their bandwagon.  From El Pintor.

06)  :Leon Bridges – Coming Home:  Leon Bridges has yet to “officially” put out anything, but he’s already one of my favorite soul artists.  That’s just how amazing this song is.  Keep an eye out for him in 2015.

05)  :Sharon Van Etten – Every Time The Sun Comes Up:  There’s something about Sharon Van Etten being blatantly snarky that I can’t help but find endlessly pleasing.  I’ll never get tired of this slow-burner.  From Are We There.

04)  :Ought – Habit:  Admittedly, this wordy, vocally uneven slice of art-rock is a a bit odd, but if you give it a real shot you’ll find that it’s one of the most engaging experiences of the year.  From More Than Any Other Day.

03)  :Speedy Ortiz – American Horror:  If you ask me, the best of the 90s revivalist bunch is most definitely Speedy Ortiz.  I mean, just listen to this song, it’s perfect.  From the Real Hair EP.

02)  :Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly:  I know Parquet Courts are adored for blistering faces, but I think this lackadaisically-paced track is the best thing they’ve ever done.  I love the rambly vocals and brainy lyrics.  From Sunbathing Animal.

01)  :Spoon – Inside Out:  Here it is, my #1 song of 2014.  Congrats to the mighty Spoon!  They have a ton of great music in their repertoire, but this immaculate track really is some next level stuff for them.  Good on the two-decade old band for still pushing themselves to evolve and get better.  From They Want My Soul.

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Stream This

November 7, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea

Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy
Cool Ghouls – A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye
Nots – We Are Nots
Dream Police – Hypnotized
Celestial Shore – Enter Ghost
Hookworms – The Hum
Torn Hawk – Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time
Gold Lake – Years
Ex Cops – Dagger
Royksopp – The Inevitable End
Cult Of Youth – Final Days
Sunbears – Future Sounds
The Voyeurs – Rhubarb Rhubarb
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz
Empty Moon – The Shark
2:54 – The Other I
Hundred Waters – Down From The Rafters Remix EP
Guerrilla Toss – Smack The Brick EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Diarrhea Planet

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Stream This

June 6, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums come out, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Jack White – Lazaretto

Pollen – Self Titled EP
The Fresh & Onlys – House Of Spirits
Tom Vek – Luck
Die Antwoord – Donker Mag
Tiny Victories – Haunts
First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
Clipping – CLPPNG
Craft Spells – Nausea
How To Train Your Dragon 2 – Soundtrack
Lust For Youth – International
Tomas Barfod – Love Me
Yesway – Self Titled
Vanish – Memory Work
Glass Animals – ZABA
Stagnant Pools – Geist
American Analog Set – Know By Heart

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Parquet Courts

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Stream This

May 30, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums come out, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

Centro-Matic – Take Pride In Your Long Odds
The Orwells – Disgraceland
Gold-Bears – Dalliance
Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin
Fucked Up – Glass Boys
Camper Van Beethoven – El Camino Real
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run
Peter Murphy – Lion
Dinowalrus – Complexion
Tigers Jaw – Charmer
Priests – Bodies And Control And Money And Power
Sandy’s – Fourth Dementia
The Donkeys – Ride The Black Wave
Sage Francis – Copper Gone

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Celebration

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Quickdraw: Polica, Braid, White Lung, Parquet Courts, Jess Williamson

May 19, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Polica – Raw Exit:  Polica would rather not just shelve Shulamith and move on, so they’ve rallied up a deluxe edition that contains a four-song EP called Raw Exit.  If you ask me, that’s a fairly clever way to remind people one last time that the album is out there.  The band will put out the expanded version of Shulamith on June 10 via Mom+Pop.

:Braid – Bang:  It’s been 16 years since Braid last put out a full length effort, but they seem to still have it.  Granted, that’s my impression after only hearing this emo gem.  I suppose there’s still a fairly good chance the album won’t be worth the wait.  Look for No Coast on July 8 via Topshelf.

:White Lung – Face Down:  For those of you that don’t like it when White Lung appear to be trying to melt your soul, I think you’ll dig this song.  It’s a rather catchy number that isn’t just an all-out assault on your ears.  Deep Fantasy is due out June 17 via Domino.

:Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly:  There’s a part of me that wanted to cut the other songs in today’s post and only go with this impossibly honest seven-minuter.  I’m just about 100% convinced that it’s the best thing that Parquet Courts have ever churned out.  You can expect to get Sunbathing Animal on June 3 via What’s Your Rupture?/Mom + Pop.

:Jess Williamson – Snake Song:  When it comes to singer/songwriters in Austin, Jess Williamson is one of my favorites.  As you’ll see once you hit play on this song, her voice just has a way of sticking with you.  Jess’ split 7″ with RF Shannon will be released on June 17 via Punctum.

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Quickdraw: Parquet Courts, Beverly, Hooray For Earth, Royksopp/Robyn, Tobacco

May 5, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Parquet Courts – Black And White:  The side of Parquet Courts that’s raw, aggressive, and just all-out is fun and whatnot, but I really love the dialed-back, hooky version of them that’s on display in this track.  Sunbathing Animal is due out June 3 on What’s Your Rupture?/Mom+Pop.

:Beverly – You Can’t Get It Right:  Just in case you don’t know, Beverly is made up of Drew Citron and SOTO favorite Frankie Rose.  I think this song of theirs is a lo-fi pop delight.  Look for Careers on July 1 via Kanine Records.

:Hooray For Earth – Keys:  Here’s a shiny new single from Hooray For Earth that I like a lot.  I can honestly see it being something that radio eventually snatches up, so keep your “I heard that way back” faces ready.  You’ll be able to get Racy on July 29 via Dovecote.

:Royksopp And Robyn – Do It Again:  Yeah, so it’s Monday and you probably don’t want to move, but this song will get you on your feet (or at least make you aggressively nod your head).  Royksopp and Robyn should always work together.  The Do It Again mini-album will be released on May 26 via Cherry Tree/Interscope.

:Tobacco – Father Sister Berzerker:  If Tobacco’s usually bizarro vocals are too much for you, then I think you’ll dig this instrumental number from them.  Be sure to grab some headphones so that it can properly swirl around in your head.  Ghostly will release Ultima II Massage on May 13.

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Stream This

April 18, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Pink Mountaintops – Get Back
Eels – The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett
Floor – Oblation
Teen – The Way And Color
Kelis – Food
Various – Farewell Transmission: The Music Of Jason Molina
Death – Death III
Fear Of Men – Loom
Various – The Space Project
Nas – Illmatic XX
Future – Honest
Dances – Whiter Sands EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Courtney Barnett

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2013 SOTO Staff Picks

December 18, 2013

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It wouldn’t be fun if only I just rambled along about what I liked this year, so I reached out to my very diverse staff for their Top 5 Albums of 2013.  I think you’ll see that the SOTO clan like a lot of different things.  Enjoy.

You know what can, sometimes, kind of blow? Getting old. Yup, watching the old life clock tick on by, the responsibilities of life pile around your ears, those precious moments when you could just wile away an hour or five listening to a handful of new records. Well kiddies, those days are dead. Nowadays I’m happy if I can listen to the new Lil’ Wayne single more than a few times when I’m driving to the gym to work my gut out with my trainer Francis. What I’m getting at here is that though I wish my list was full of a shocking selection of diverse and mind-expanding music, well, it’s not. I stand by each and all of these picks but I can’t say I did the extra work this year to blow any minds.

Forgive me, and enjoy.

5. The National – If I Stay Here, Trouble Will Find Me
4. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
3. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
2. Fuzz – S/T
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

In keeping with my column, I fully intended to select nothing but chick-fronted albums in 2013. Laura Marling was one of my most-streamed, and my girl Neko’s latest was an insta-fave. But once I got back to looking at things, I realized my list was a little more eclectic than anticipated. Vampire Weekend never ceases to be the catchiest around, and Local Natives continue to lyrically break my heart with everything they put out. And there’s nothing like a little Washed Out to soundtrack a Sunday afternoon. Notable mention? Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds stopped by KCRW, resulting in a record store day release that I haven’t stopped listening (and crying) to since purchasing.

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Washed Out – Paracosm
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
Local Natives – Hummingbird

I see it this way … 2010 was the first date, 2011 was the good times, 2012 was the breakup, and 2013 was when music took some “me” time. That does not mean this year did not generate some great or even classic records, it does mean that there was some experimentation that may or may not have worked out so well; see Drumgasm. That being said, there was still plenty of illuminations happening all over the musical cosmos in 2013. Labels like Chapter Music and Paradise of Bachelors killed it this year, as did Bedroom Suck and Fire Records. Though some more successful than others, 2013 saw artists and bands the world over restate time honored sounds and genres.

5. Fat History Month – Bad History Month (Exploding In Sound)
4. The Stevens – A History Of Hygiene (Chapter Music)
3. Purling Hiss – Water On Mars (Drag City)
2. Dick Diver – Calendar Days (Chapter Music)
1. Steve Gunn – Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors)

When I received my assignment to pick my Top 5 albums for the year, I thought that It would be a piece of cake: “5 albums? No problem.” But then I started to recall the various new releases from this year and felt twinges of panic and regret: “Who do I choose ? Who do I leave off the list ?”. I don’t have a complicated system for deciding on favorites; it usually comes down to what I listened to the most.  The focus for my 2013 Top 5 are all Austin-based artists, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy records from bands from other places. This year was also a fantastic year for some outstanding releases from some of my favorite local bands. They all share a common love for melodies, harmonies, and top notch songwriting.

Royal Forest – Spillway
Black Books – Black Books
Wiretree – Get Up
The Zoltars – Walking Through The Dark
Yum – Take My Blue / Santiago Dietche – Waxing And Roaring (tie)

This year there have been some amazing metal releases, I am not even giving lip service about my genre, it has been incredible the caliber of albums coming out, and to narrow it down to five, I had to switch a few things around from other lists I have made. Excluding Dillinger Escape Plan, Cult of Luna, Arsis, Black Dahlia Murder and All Pigs Must Die is heart wrenching, but these five bands have created some of the best music metal has heard in two decades. From noisy extremes like Nails, to groove laden jams on the new Clutch album, and the rebirth of the dormant Carcass to win the top spot on every list I have done.  So let it be written, so let it be done, the best metal albums of the year are:

5. Nails – Abandon All Life (Southern Lord)
4. Kvelertak – Meir (Roadrunner)
3. Clutch – Earth Rocker (Weathermaker)
2. Protest The Hero – Volition (Razor And Tie)
1. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

Hey, everybody! It may surprise you that here in my natural habitat of the music blog, I am supremely uncomfortable making lists.  Yes, I listen to a lot of music, and yes, there is stuff I like more than other stuff, but really when it comes down to taking my favorite albums from an entire year and ranking them on such a fine gradient, I just get miserable and ambivalent.  There was a lot of great hip hop produced this year and these are all great albums, and these are only in an order because John Laird forced me to do it.

5. Shad – Flying Colours
4. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
3. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
2. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
1. Danny Brown – Old

2013 was a big year for pop music. Miley’s tongue was inescapable, British teens ran rampant, and through it all I reveled in the weirdness. The latter half of this year found me really embracing my not-so-guilty pleasure of pure female fronted pop, so I thought I should theme my Top 5 to mainstream pop with female vocalists. Specific enough for ya? But after all, there’s so much of it, sometimes you need a spirit guide. Like Katy Perry–those of you who wrote her off for bubblegum pop need to check out Prism, where her dark side shines and emotions run rampant. And Ariana Grande–the next in line for a breakout from the Disney dynasty actually has the pipes to back it up, and I can’t stop spinning her tracks. Meanwhile, singles shine for Lady Gaga’s Artpop, where any track could be a hit–and Do What U Want is climbing charts for a reason. None of the Lana Del Rey songs on 2013′s Tropico are new–all taken from last year’s Paradise–but these three songs might be her best so far and provide an excellent primer for burgeoning Lana fans. Number one couldn’t go to anyone but Lorde–sure, brush her off as a one hit wonder, but I’d take Tennis and Ribs over Royals any day–it’s an incredible album.

5. Katy Perry – Prism
4. Lady Gaga – Artpop
3. Ariana Grande – Yours Truly
2. Lana Del Rey – Tropico
1. Lorde – Heroine

So 2013 was pretty good year for music, yes? My thirst for catchy punk rock and fuzzy garage rock was quenched throughout the year. There were a bunch of albums I loved that did not make the very top of my list. I’m looking at you Ty Segall, Bad Sports, Mind Spiders, A Giant Dog, and Thee Oh Sees. I love you all but there can only be five:

5. Radioactivity – Radioactivity
4. Vaadat Charigim – The World Is Well Lost
3. Sweet Talk – Pickup Lines
2. Mikal Cronin – MCII
1. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

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